When Your Job Description Keeps Growing

Job creep, wtalk about moneyhen your employer keeps adding tasks to your job description, is one of the biggest challenges you can face as a nanny. You want to help, you want to do a great job, you want to pitch in but you also don’t want to feel taken advantage of. How do you find the right balance? How do you set healthy boundaries without upsetting your employers?

Job creep happens for lots of reasons.

The phrase job creep may sound new to many who are not well versed with nanny industry.  It is used to describe the additional responsibility f nannies which may come as a surprise that was not mentioned in the agreement. As per the industry rules, a nanny is only responsible for child care and not for any other chores.  The link describes more about their responsibilities Learn more about the Bitcoin TraderSometimes your employer asks you for a favor, part of the give and take of the nanny employment relationship, and then it somehow becomes an unspoken expectation rather than a one time deal. Does that mean your employer is out to take advantage of you? Not usually. It’s often the curse of the “no problem!” nanny response. When you make things seem incredibly easy and have a positive, pitch-in attitude, it’s easy for your employers to assume that it really is no big deal and that you really don’t mind taking it on. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have to become a hard core “I’m not going to do anything outside my contract” nanny to avoid job creep. 

Sometimes your employer asks you for a favor, part of the give and take of the nanny employment relationship, and then it somehow becomes an unspoken expectation rather than a one time deal. Does that mean your employer is out to take advantage of you? Not usually. It’s often the curse of the “no problem!” nanny response. When you make things seem incredibly easy and have a positive, pitch-in attitude, it’s easy for your employers to assume that it really is no big deal and that you really don’t mind taking it on. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have to become a hard core “I’m not going to do anything outside my contract” nanny to avoid job creep. That willingness to help out and your ability to get things done with (seemingly) little effort is a big part of being a successful nanny. It just means you have to be more honest and clear about your boundaries. Chances are your employer never thought that the favor she asked was going to turn into a problem. When it does, it’s up to you to help things get back on track.

Sometimes your employer does know he’s asking you to do things that are clearly outside the agreed on job description. That doesn’t automatically make him a jerk. We all have a tendency to push the envelope when we’re swamped, stressed or just need to catch a break. It’s often a lot easier for an employer to act like he’s not asking for anything out of the ordinary rather than admit he needs extra help and wants you to step up and pitch in. Asking for what we need in an open way is hard for all of us.

Sometimes your employer is piling things on because she’s unhappy with you for an unrelated reason. Rather than talk with you about it directly, she uses this tactic to manipulate you and make herself feel better. Yes, this is as dysfunctional as it sounds but it often happens when the employment relationship is in a downward, destructive spiral.

So what’s a nanny to do? Have a talk with your employers.

In the first two cases, when your employer is asking for things outside of your job description but doesn’t have any malicious motivation, it’s simply a matter of setting boundaries. Boundaries are something that will come up again and again in your employment relationship so now’s as good a time as any to figure it all out. Here’s a breakdown of what that conversation might look like. BTW, If your situation falls into the third case, if there’s a much bigger issue between you and your employer, that’s a different kind of conversation and a different post.

Nanny: Dan, I wanted to talk with you about the extra household things I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. First, I want you to know that it’s always a priority for me to pitch in and help out where I can. I feel that’s part of my job and I’m happy to do it. However, I also want to make sure that we have boundaries in place so both you and I are on the same page about our agreed upon job description. I know you’ve been swamped at work with that case going to trial and like I said, I’ve been happy to stay caught up on the family laundry, do the grocery shopping and make a few family meals during the week. However it’s starting to feel less like I’m pitching in for the short term and more like it’s an ongoing part of my job. If things are going to go back to normal in a week or so, no worries. If my job description is changing over the long term, I’d like to set up a time for us to talk about how that can work for both of us.

Let’s dissect that statement. There are important key pieces that should be part of your conversation.

Dan, I wanted to talk with you about the extra household things I’ve been doing over the past few weeks.

Focus the conversation on the issue, not on the behavior.

First, I want you to know that it’s always a priority for me to pitch in and help out where I can. I feel that’s part of my job and I’m happy to do it.

Let your employer know that you’re a team player and you genuinely want to help and support him.

However, I also want to make sure that we have boundaries in place so both you and I are on the same page about our agreed upon job description.

However is the best transition word EVER! State your need. Use team building language to send the message that you and your employer are in this together. It’s not you against them.

I know you’ve been swamped at work with that case going to trial and like I said, I’ve been happy to stay caught up on the family laundry, do the grocery shopping and make a few family meals during the week.

Let your employer know you understand the reasons behind the job creep. (Your intention, tone and body language here will make or break the conversation.) Detail what exactly you’re talking about in neutral language.

However it’s starting to feel less like I’m pitching in for the short term and more like it’s an ongoing part of my job.

Let your employer know how you’re feeling without blaming him.

If things are going to go back to normal in a week or so, no worries. If my job description is changing over the long term, I’d like to set up a time for us to talk about how that can work for both of us.

Give him a choice as to how he wants to move forward. If things will go back to normal within a set time frame, let him know this is non-issue. You’re setting your boundary here. If things are truly changing, let him know you need to sit down and have a more detailed conversation about how that will be handled. You’re not agreeing to a change, you’re agreeing to talk about a change.

If you’re facing job creep in your job, I hope this helps you successfully navigate the issue with your employer.

Looking for an information packed session designed to help you in your role as a childcare professional in a private home?  Check out my new series, the Professional Nanny Training Series.

Lora Brawley

Nanny care expert specializing in helping parents and nannies effectively navigate the hiring / job search process and develop long-term, successful employment relationships. Creator of the A to Z Nanny Contract and National Nanny Training Day.. Also a communications trainer, Positive Discipline Parent Educator and Mediator.